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Jetty John

Hawaii excursion recommendations

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My wife and I are taking the Grand Princess to Hawaii on April 21st.  Believe it or not I'm 62 years old and have never been to Hawaii.  Our ports are Maui, Hilo, Honolulu and Kauai.  I definitely want to do some good snorkeling, and our port time in Honolulu goes into the evening and we'd like to do a Luau if possible.  Does anyone have any good recommendations for excursions?

 

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Hawaii ports are the easiest to do on your own.  Rent a car for every port.  

 

Hawaii Island:  Volcano or waterfalls.  It's difficult to get both in during the short port stop.  They are in opposite directions.

 

Kauai:  Not my favorite island.  Again, a short port.  Smith's Luau and Fern Grotto.  Do you really need to "experience a luau"?  

 

Maui:  Whale watch.  I've done both.  From the ship in the morning (best) and with Pacific Whale Foundation.  Whales have been very scarce this past season and April is the tail end of the season.  If you want to snorkel, find a tour that will take you to Molokini Crater.  Do not leave West Maui.  It is your last port and it's a long swim home.  

 

Honolulu:  Are you military?  Hale Koa Hotel puts on a very good luau.  You can get reserved tickets for the Arizona Memorial.  Hopefully the launch deck will be repaired.  Lots and lots and lots to do here.

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I agree. Rent a car. Start doing research and make your own excursion.

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Kuaui is a beautiful island. For us it was the island that most represented what we had envisioned. Do a 1 hr helicopter tour! You will not regret it!

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We are cruising to Hawaii for the third time in April.  I agree with the previous posts regarding renting a car.  I got a Hawaii map from Amazon and will put specific addresses into my GPS before we leave and tuck it in my luggage.  I plan each day's itinerary - do a lot of research to include what's important to you.  

 

Regarding luau, we've done two before, both on Oahu and were disappointed in them.  But our travel companions want to do one, so I did a lot of reading and decided on Diamond Head Luau.  

https://diamondheadluauwaikiki.com/

 

I have Budget's "Fast Break" and pre-paid for a mini-van in each port.  Pick up and drop off are easy; Honolulu is the one port-of-call where traffic can be a challenge, so just allow extra time.  

 

If you want to see the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor (and you probably do,) reserve your tour tickets exactly 60 days in advance.  The basic tickets are free, but there is a $1.50 per ticket fee to make a reservation.  

https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/233338

 

If your party is just a little adventurous, please consider "tubing the ditch."  We just got off our 46th cruise and still consider this the best excursion experience EVER.  With a rental car on Kauai, you would have time to tube the ditch, see Waimea Canyon, Wailua Falls and stop at an ABC store.  

https://kauaibackcountry.com/tubing/

 

Hawaii is my favorite destination.  I'm happy to help in any way.  In fact, pay my fare and I'll be your tour guide!!!!

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Are there car rental shuttles at the port? It appears that the rentals are all at the airport, unless you have a recommendation.  I am looking for Kauai

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Kauai is very easy to rent a car - shuttles pick you up right at the pier and take you the short distance to the rental car agencies.   

I'd skip the luau and Fern Grotto - head for Waimea Canyon, then stop at the Beach House Restaurant in Poipu for a great lunch with a spectacular view.     In Hilo, again rent a car very easily, go for the Volcano National Park route, (unless the government shutdown is still going on) - you can see waterfalls many places, but not a volcano.   Stop on your way back to the ship at Akatsuka Orchid farm - spectacular blooms that they'll ship home if you want.   

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Thank you Kartgv. We do presently have a car reserved for Hilo and Maui, but not yet Kauai. We were going to do something on our own like a kayak tour or jet boat tour to Na Pali but EVERYTHING is closed on Sunday. And when I went back on the Princess site for excursions the ones I would be interested in are sold out or waitlisted. I had no idea that so many businesses would be closed on a Sunday when a cruise ship is in port. 

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We did a movie tour in Kauai.  They had a small shuttle bus with a TV screen and would show scenes from Television and movies and at the same time you would be at the spot where they filmed.  I enjoyed it.

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The couple of cruises we did Wings Over Kauai.  Better than the helicopter tour and way less expensive.  If you decide to do it be sure to book early.  They tend to sell out on cruise ship days.

https://www.wingsoverkauai.com/

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On 1/21/2019 at 8:01 AM, GottaLuvCruising said:

We are cruising to Hawaii for the third time in April.  I agree with the previous posts regarding renting a car.  I got a Hawaii map from Amazon and will put specific addresses into my GPS before we leave and tuck it in my luggage.  I plan each day's itinerary - do a lot of research to include what's important to you.  

 

Regarding luau, we've done two before, both on Oahu and were disappointed in them.  But our travel companions want to do one, so I did a lot of reading and decided on Diamond Head Luau.  

https://diamondheadluauwaikiki.com/

 

I have Budget's "Fast Break" and pre-paid for a mini-van in each port.  Pick up and drop off are easy; Honolulu is the one port-of-call where traffic can be a challenge, so just allow extra time.  

 

If you want to see the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor (and you probably do,) reserve your tour tickets exactly 60 days in advance.  The basic tickets are free, but there is a $1.50 per ticket fee to make a reservation.  

https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/233338

 

If your party is just a little adventurous, please consider "tubing the ditch."  We just got off our 46th cruise and still consider this the best excursion experience EVER.  With a rental car on Kauai, you would have time to tube the ditch, see Waimea Canyon, Wailua Falls and stop at an ABC store.  

https://kauaibackcountry.com/tubing/

 

Hawaii is my favorite destination.  I'm happy to help in any way.  In fact, pay my fare and I'll be your tour guide!!!!

Hello!  Do you know if there are any tours to do the tubing so as to not have to rent a car?

 

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44 minutes ago, ar1950 said:

The couple of cruises we did Wings Over Kauai.  Better than the helicopter tour and way less expensive.  If you decide to do it be sure to book early.  They tend to sell out on cruise ship days.

https://www.wingsoverkauai.com/

 

We did this tour and loved it. I totally agree about renting cars. Last time I checked Princess wanted something like $98 per person to visit the Arizona. There were 3 of us. We rented a car for the cost of one person on the Princess tour, did the Arizona for free (actually paid the $1.50 or so per person online for a fixed time slot), and then had the car for the rest of the day. Also, don't overlook the possibility of a HOHO bus. We took the HOHO bus in (I believe it was) Hilo. We saw a number of places. We got off where we wanted and wandered around and then caught the next bus coming through and went somewhere else. It's  cheap and easy.

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2 hours ago, zalusky said:

We did a movie tour in Kauai.  They had a small shuttle bus with a TV screen and would show scenes from Television and movies and at the same time you would be at the spot where they filmed.  I enjoyed it.

We did this tour also. Very enjoyable!

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3 hours ago, TheSweetLife220 said:

Thank you Kartgv. We do presently have a car reserved for Hilo and Maui, but not yet Kauai. We were going to do something on our own like a kayak tour or jet boat tour to Na Pali but EVERYTHING is closed on Sunday. And when I went back on the Princess site for excursions the ones I would be interested in are sold out or waitlisted. I had no idea that so many businesses would be closed on a Sunday when a cruise ship is in port. 

 

Kauai is a very short port.  My recommendation is to take a helicopter/plane ride over the island.  It's a breath-taking beautiful island.  Kauai is also the only island that has navigable rivers.  Beware....the North end of Kauai has many infrastructure (road) damages due to recent rains.  Don't think you have time to do a NaPali boat ride from Waimea.  Leaves at 8 (won't be docked in time) and out for 4 hours.  https://makanacharters.com

 

The islands are relatively small, but getting around takes a long time.  There are no roads on any islands that circle any island.  Be sure to allow yourself at least an extra hour from google map/mapquests/etc. directions 

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23 minutes ago, cr8tiv1 said:

....

The islands are relatively small, but getting around takes a long time.  There are no roads on any islands that circle any island.  Be sure to allow yourself at least an extra hour from google map/mapquests/etc. directions 

 

No question about that.  The last time we were in Oahu and rented a car (2016) we went by the Dole plantation then on to the north shore and around the east side of the island. Heavy traffic the whole trip.  Going through the rush hour traffic in Honolulu to return the car was amazingly slow. In 2017 even Maui was a slow go up to the volcano and back. Returning the rental car in Lahaina was another slow slog getting to the north side of town.  Allow plenty time wherever you go by car.

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20 minutes ago, ar1950 said:

 

No question about that.  The last time we were in Oahu and rented a car (2016) we went by the Dole plantation then on to the north shore and around the east side of the island. Heavy traffic the whole trip.  Going through the rush hour traffic in Honolulu to return the car was amazingly slow. In 2017 even Maui was a slow go up to the volcano and back. Returning the rental car in Lahaina was another slow slog getting to the north side of town.  Allow plenty time wherever you go by car.

 

You need to let me know when you are in town.  I'll be your driver.

 

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7 minutes ago, cr8tiv1 said:

 

You need to let me know when you are in town.  I'll be your driver.

 

Sounds good.  Which town these days?  BTW, we were on the 2013 Star Princess Hawaii cruise with you.

Edited by ar1950

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6 minutes ago, ar1950 said:

Sounds good.  Which town these days?  BTW, we were on the 2013 Star Princess Hawaii cruise with you.

 

e....mail...me...

Name of cruise company

My Call name

at

gmail

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3 minutes ago, cr8tiv1 said:

 

e....mail...me...

Name of cruise company

My Call name

at

gmail

 

Got it.  Thinking of a land trip next time.   Always had more of a relaxation time on a land trip.  Flight over and back is always a drag, but, once there it is worth it.

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Our first Hawaii cruise we rented cars at each port. The second time my husband said "no rental cars"! Yes, it is nice to have the freedom and Independence, BUT we wasted a lot of time waiting for shuttles, waiting in line for the cars (even when filling everything out beforehand and using loyalty programs), etc., etc. With one day in port it didn't seem worth the hassles. Taxi's, Uber, or tours will get you where you need to go without the added hassles, and in my opinion the extra expense was worth it for us. To answer your questions r/t excursions: In Honolulu we enjoyed climbing Diamondhead and the Pearl Harbor sites. Maui - whale watching, snorkeling, or Haleakula. Kauai- Waimea Canyon is beautiful, the 2nd time there we booked a private tour guide who showed us so much more than what we found on our own the first time. Hilo -  lots of small group tours that do the usual Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park, etc. Happy planning!

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10 hours ago, Mkehlb said:

Hello!  Do you know if there are any tours to do the tubing so as to not have to rent a car?

 

No, but you could likely Uber.  

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My itinerary for our Feb 3rd HAL cruise:

 

Kona -- Big Island Air airplane tour -- taking a taxi or rideshare from cruise port to airport 

Tip: Plane tours, where available, cost less than helicopters and far have more generous weight restrictions. My husband would have had to pay 1 1/2 to 2x the price for an already crazy expensive helicopter tour. I'd rather take the longer plane tour anyway!

Honolulu -- Hawaii Food tours -- picking up across the street from the cruise port 

Note: The Arizona platform is closed for renovations until at least March and who knows how much longer with the shutdown. I couldn't deal with the stress of planning around that so we're skipping the WWII stuff entirely in favor of a food tour (will try to do the military history site-seeing when we return in the future for a SCUBA trip).

Nawiliwili -- Airventures Hawaii Biplane tour -- picking up across the street from the cruise port. Yes, you can do an open cockpit biplane tour with old-timey aviator leather cap & goggles!! This is a birthday treat for my husband.

Lahaina -- EXC/HAL tours because nothing I wanted to do fit with the amount of buffer I like to give tender ports

Hilo -- Kamaaina Custom Tours private van tour -- picking up inside the port

Tip: Full day private tours at Hilo (and probably all the ports, but I didn't look) cost less than the EXC small group options, and there are several great private tour companies available! We picked this one because he was most amenable to my itinerary customization requests. If you talk to folks on your roll call, it's likely some would be willing to share costs on a private small group tour. 

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On ‎1‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 10:39 PM, Jetty John said:

My wife and I are taking the Grand Princess to Hawaii on April 21st.  Believe it or not I'm 62 years old and have never been to Hawaii.  Our ports are Maui, Hilo, Honolulu and Kauai.  I definitely want to do some good snorkeling, and our port time in Honolulu goes into the evening and we'd like to do a Luau if possible.  Does anyone have any good recommendations for excursions?

 

Best snorkeling will be on Maui. If you take a snorkel tour, you might see a few whales but I wouldn't do a dedicated whale watch that late in the season.  The Road to Hana on Maui is also a great tour but it is a long day in a car or on a bus.  But you get to see Maui's eastern coast which is incredible scenery (waterfalls, black sand beach).  Old Lahaina Luau on Maui, and Smith's Luau on Kauai get great reviews, Chief's on Oahu is another one.  Oahu is also a nice place for a sunset catamaran sail if you are there long enough.  Kauai is a great place for a helicopter tour and there is also Waimea Canyon.  Hilo has Volcanoes National Park and the Hamakua coast and some accessible waterfalls.  Oahu has Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach.

 

We are taking a tour with Wings over Kauai on Kauai and also renting a car and driving.  On Maui we are renting a car and possibly doing a tour of Road to Hana.  In Hilo, we will either do VNP or drive the coast.  There is so much to see on each island, it's hard to decide!  We are spending three nights on Oahu pre-cruise so will do a lot there also.

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